Where Should I Place My Subwoofer?

One of the key decisions in a home theater audio setup is where to locate your subwoofer relative to the seating and room. Getting that great rumble is all part of a good home theater. In the best systems this works well without making the music or dialog sound boomy. The things to consider are:

  • Subwoofers placed within 3 feet of people make it very difficult to obtain an even volume level for the LFE channel and low frequency bass at multiple seats.
  • Subwoofers in corners will use the least power to achieve the same volume level or smaller subwoofers will achieve more output.
  • Subwoofers placed against a wall will use less power than subwoofers placed more than 3 feet from any wall.
  • Seating placed against a wall will have more base below 30Hz than seating in the open. This can dramatically improve the sound quality for subwoofers with drivers smaller than 15″ in diameter.
  • In-wall or subwoofers on wood floors need to be carefully isolated to avoid rattles.
  • Generally the best place to locate a single subwoofer is on the same wall as the front speakers. Multiple subwoofers are best on opposing walls, but any physical separation is a plus.
  • Place the subwoofer in your primary seat and play a loud test signal from the LFE channel and listen at possible subwoofer locations to see which is loudest to find the best location if multiple are available. One source for this test signal would be the level test signal in your receiver or audio processor.
  • Computer model room response in Cara software to determine room acoustical performance along with subwoofer performance.
  • Seating placed in the middle of the room is generally going to have problems with bass.
W. Jeff Meier

ISF and THX Certified Home Theater Consultant

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